Western Montana's recent freezing temperatures are driving some homeless people to seek shelter from the cold. Missoula's Poverello Center bends the rules a bit when the weather hits 20 degrees or below, to allow more people in.
NBC Montana met several homeless folks just outside the shelter, and discussed how the cold weather affects them.
Stephan Ferry explained that he recently become homeless, and he’s having to part with his dog Java, because it’s too cold out. Homeless shelters like the Pov don’t allow pets.
“I can’t keep her warm. That’s why I finally agreed to surrender her,” said Ferry. Staff from Missoula Pet Au Pair, a dog boarding company, met Ferry outside of the shelter and picked the dog up.
“I just want someone who is going to take care of her until I get back on my feet,” said Ferry. “Don’t let your animals suffer because of your mistakes.”
Nearby, NBC Montana spoke with Josh Smith, a homeless man originally from Seattle.
“Really, you’ve find someplace where the wind can’t get you,” said Smith. “I’ve woken up in 4 inches of snow before.”
Smith said that when he’s not staying in the shelter, cardboard is a helpful thing to use because it keeps out moisture.
“It could be padding. You put down a few pieces and the way it’s built it’ll take forever for a liquid to soak through it,” said Smith.
Folks like Smith and Ferry have been increasingly relying on the Pov as the temperatures stay low.
The shelter’s executive director, Eran Fowler Pehan, says the shelter has beds for 68 people, but on Monday night the shelter slept 110. That means a little over 40 slept on bedrolls on the floor.
“When the weather gets this cold, regardless of how sophisticated your camping gear is, it can just get really dangerous for people,” said Fowler Pehan.
Temperatures hit 9 degrees on Monday night, and the cold snap is expected to last through the weekend.